Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 22, 2005
WAR: Battle Droids

The U.S. military is developing robot soldiers? This seems like it could have some real hazards to work out:

"They don't get hungry," said Gordon Johnson of the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command. "They're not afraid. They don't forget their orders. They don't care if the guy next to them has just been shot. Will they do a better job than humans? Yes."

The robot soldier is coming.

The Pentagon predicts that robots will be a major fighting force in the U.S. military in less than a decade, hunting and killing enemies in combat. Robots are a crucial part of the Army's effort to rebuild itself as a 21st-century fighting force, and a $127 billion project called Future Combat Systems is the biggest military contract in American history.


The robot soldier has been a dream at the Pentagon for 30 years. And some involved in the work say it may take at least 30 more years to realize in full. Well before then, they say, the military will have to answer some tough questions if it intends to trust robots with the responsibility of distinguishing friend from foe, combatant from innocent bystander.

Even the strongest advocates of automatons say that war will always remain a human endeavor, marked by death and disaster. And supporters like Robert Finkelstein, president of Robotic Technology in Potomac, Md., are telling the Pentagon that it could take until 2035 to develop a robot that looks, thinks and fights like a soldier. The Pentagon's "goal is there," he said, "but the path is not totally clear."

Of course, even aside from the issue of whether robots can be trusted not to target civilians, there's a second issue: as Victor Davis Hanson has often argued, a significant part of America's competitive advantage in combat is the brains and flexibility of soldiers from free societies, as opposed to those trained and conditioned in autocracies. Hopefully, a movement in the direction of automated soldiers won't erode that.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:14 AM | War 2005 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

I could see a squadron with a mix of robotic and human soldiers. The robots go around corners and through doors first and always make decisions with guidance. The humans provide the brains.

Posted by: john jay at February 25, 2005 7:49 PM
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